Flickr Is Dead. Long Live Flickr.

Flickr Is Dead. Long Live Flickr.

Flickr on the porch. Photo by Miles.

Flickr’s redesign caught the world a bit unawares last week. Surprise notwithstanding, it took only moments for people to declare their love or hate for the new look. I sat on my hands for a week, absorbing the changes slowly. 

I like it.

I think it’s safe to say the design team will continue to make changes, like Delicious is doing throughout its also-sudden redo and like what Google does for nearly everything. As Fred Brooks would say, “Design, design, and design; and seek knowledgeable criticism.”

Here is my plus/delta list for now:

Plus (hurrah!)

  1. Social — I like seeing large photos from my contacts when I hit the home page. This is an improvement over the recent activity that occupied the above-the-fold in old Flickr.
  2. Scroll — I can scroll easily through those photos and my search results. (Yay!)
  3. Sets — I like this update the best of all. I share sets of event photos frequently. The new layout makes me happy.
  4. Captions on hover — Gorgeous implementation.
  5. Flickr blog and Explore — They’re not new. I just like both a lot…so many great photo and photographer discoveries.


Delta (my hopes for what’s next)

  1. Social (yeah, it’s up above, also) — Kudos on the repositioning of content. I’m hoping for more integration into networks; more internal communication and linking tools (vis-à-vis tags, hashtags and such); and maybe, just maybe the next big thing in curating and sharing. I don’t know what it is yet, but think Yahoo and Flickr are as good as a bet as any for figuring it out.
  2. Ads — Meh. I realize they are the modern deal with the devil. I love Flickr for its paid pro community. I plan to renew forever and not worry about the ad crisis. (I’m one of those people. I prefer to pay a reasonable fee for web services in lieu of ads.) For those who don’t want to pay-to-play, I hope Flickr forces its advertisers to create cool photo ads that integrate into the stream like artwork, with only a discreet ad tattoo.
  3. Comments and sharing on hover — I have to think this is coming. Right now, it’s a clear break to the old Flickr. I’m looking forward to seeing the UI when it’s finished. (I’m sure this will also include better link clues and typography consistency.)
  4. Better data portability — I’d like to be able to download sets. (Maximum size limits are okay.)
  5. Slideshow — Auto Ken Burns. Ergh.
  6. Guest pass — How about we just adopt more granular sharing permissions instead, like sharing via link?


So…. Not bad. Change is good. This change is good. It’s how we move forward. Flickr is dead. Long live Flickr.

**And, um yeah, I have one final request (please, oh please Flickr gods)…. I need an Instagram auto-import killer. I’m thinking something as simple as an EXIF/metadata filter that will allow me to hide the photos from Instagram. Because this is Flickr, right? Not Instagram. I get why my friends are doing the backup to Flickr. It makes sense. And I treasure you both, Jeremy Macdonald and Tim Lauer, but you’re killin’ me here.

Flickr, Creative Commons, and Chick-fil-A (Paging Dr. Lessig)

Flickr, Creative Commons, and Chick-fil-A (Paging Dr. Lessig)

Chik-fil-a dress like a cow

Last month, Ken Cook tweeted me that one of my Flickr photos was being used. I took a quick look at the article in question, saw that the photo was correctly attributed and put it aside. I thought, “well, maybe he’s letting me know someone is using my image in an article I might not agree with….” I was traveling and finishing a database project simultaneously that week and had only one undernourished brain cell left for Twitter and the web, so I added the tweet to my to-do-later list.

Once I was back at home and settled, Cook’s meaning settled in…. My Flickr photos are licensed with an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license. I had focused on the attribution part in my first glance and had completely ignored the non-commercial part: “You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.”

The site using my image was Business Insider, a site that looks like it’s certainly commercial.

my photo on Business InsiderMy Chick-fil-A photo on Business Insider

Not only is the site commercial, but it was also posting this article just as the current Chik-fil-A controversy was heating up. So, am I okay with my photo being used? Is it a violation of my non-commercial license? I went to my Creative Commons and copyright bookmarks to see if I could find an answer. This issue is not new; I have a Creative Commons bookmark from Fall 2009: Defining Noncommercial: A Study of How the Online Population Understands “Noncommercial Use.” The study is good reading, but it did not provide a clear answer to my questions.

Ars Technica’s Creative Commons images and you covered the issue with a little more depth from the users’ perspective. On the issue of non-commercial images, the author advised editors, “check with your publisher’s legal department on this question, because putting noncommercial Creative Commons images in your articles is a real gray area.”

In contrast, the Ars Technica article linked to a 2008 post on non-commercial use by librarian Molly Kleinman. Molly stated the opposite in her examples: “Using a photo on an ad-supported website = Commercial.”

So, I’m indecisive for now. When I first decided to publish my photos, blogs, slide decks, and videos with Creative Commons licenses, my intended users were educators and non-profits. I believe in sharing, but I didn’t set out to make a for-profit website editor’s job easier/cheaper because he can embed one of my images instead of sending a photographer/writer out to Chick-fil-A for a photo. Again though, I believe in sharing and I believe in the sharing culture that has allowed creativity to flourish on the web.

Business Insider is clearly making money (that commercial advantage or private monetary compensation phrase from the Creative Commons license excerpt above). There’s a vodka ad next to my photo, for Pete’s sake. But, are they making money because of my photo? Most likely not. They’re most likely making money from the headline. (Remember the opening of that clause says in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.)

Is there a difference between the use of my photo and the overall for-profit status of the organization?

After three weeks of reading and reaching out to experts, I’m still uncertain.

I’m indecisive for now because I want to be consistent. If I ask Business Insider to remove my image, I should also do the same of many of the smaller blogs that have used my images. They may not all have a pricey Ketel Vodka block ad in the sidebar, but they often have Google AdWords or Amazon affiliate blocks.

I tend to lean to the left on this. My thoughts are more in line with Lawrence Lessig than Sonny Bono on copyright issues, so I would rather share than restrict. However, I want to be faithful to the spirit and law of Creative Commons.

I’ll take any words of wisdom, either in agreement or dissent.

(Thanks, Ken Cook for making me think this through.)

Tekhne – Artful Technology, Article 7 (Flickr)

Tekhne – Artful Technology, Article 7 (Flickr)

Cubs baseball in 1913 1913 Baseball Photos from the Library of Congress Flickr Project The following is from a series of articles I wrote for the education section of the Central Oregonian. Lifelong Learning and Lifelong Sharing It’s the month of April and, at our house, that means it’s the month of running back and forth between the baseball diamonds in town. It’s also the month that the Library of Congress added another batch of historical photos to its Flickr Photo Project, including ones from the 1912 baseball season. The project is exciting. It not only provides access to great photos from our national history, but also represents the positive, collaborative nature of the Internet. Flickr is a photo-sharing Web site. Anyone can join for free and post photos to share with friends or the general public. More importantly, users can add tags (labels) to photos to help identify and organize them. This is where it intersects with the Library of Congress. The Library contains over 14 million prints and photos. Many have incomplete or incorrect identifications. To improve those identifications, the Library is seeking public input on approximately 3,000 of the most popular archive photos. Since January 2008, when they began the project with Flickr, the Library has improved dozens of records. Social tagging and public knowledge projects allow us to learn from and share with each other. And we each have something to contribute. Many of the projects, like the Library of Congress/Flickr Project, involve photos or artwork. The Encyclopedia of Life, however, has the grand ambition of organizing all we know about life on our planet. And the Peer-to-Patent Project assists the backlogged US Patent and Trademark Office by collecting user input on prior inventions. These specific projects are narrower versions of the general information sharing and organization that is happening in projects like Wikipedia,, LibraryThing, Mahalo, and Magnolia. Each of these harnesses our collective knowledge: one part subject expert and one part wisdom of crowds. Crook County students are growing up and learning in this information-sharing environment. They are already contributing to a greater understanding of the world and shaping the future of collaborative learning. We encourage them to share what they know with each other, their teachers, and the world. I encourage you to do the same. Library of Congress/Flickr Commons Encyclopedia of Life Peer-to-Patent Wikipedia Delicious LibraryThing Mahalo Here’s a snapshot of the original article: tekhne newspaper copy